RAW LIVING FOODS
RAW AND REAL
A raw food diet is made up of fresh, whole, unrefined, living, plant foods: fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, nuts & seeds and even sprouted beans and legumes, which are all consumed in their natural state, without the use of cooking or steaming. These uncooked whole foods are both enzyme and oxygen rich at an ideal state to ingest. When we cook our foods, these natural enzymes can be destroyed by heat and are chemically and structurally altered. By eating the majority of our food in it's raw and real state, we are essentially preserving our foods nutritional value that is often lost in the process of cooking. You don't need to be 100% raw 100% of the time to receive the benefits of raw foods. Lets just say the more raw, living foods you incorporate into your diet, the more you are going to see and feel the difference in your overall health!
Benefits of raw plant foods
Higher consumption of enzymes boosts digestion and helps prevent chronic disease.
Improved digestion and elimination because you are eating foods high in fiber and water.
Heightened energy since the energy used for digestion is essentially freed up.
Healthier hair, smoother skin and stronger nails from living vitamins and minerals.
Mental clarity, increased focus and improved concentration.
Balanced and improved mood (if eating properly and consistently).
Ease of achieving optimal body weight (if eating properly and consistently).
Prevention and reversal of dis-ease within the body over time.
High antioxidant and phytonutrient content which promotes anti-aging.
Click here to see what long term raw vegans look like well into their ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s!
Eating raw helps you to discover food allergies, sensitivities and/or intolerances.
Resetting of your taste buds so you do not need as much salt and spices with your meals.
Reduction of cravings for unhealthy, processed non-foods.
Use far less electricity and less time to prepare your meals.
Boosted immune function due to the consumption of foods high in vitamin C.
A more powerful connection to the Earth and appreciation of whole food sources.
Improved dental health and less buildup of plaque on the teeth (yes, you still need to brush).
Improved menstruation over time with a less pain and less of a heavy flow.
Reduction of mucous in eyes, nose and throat since cooking certain foods can create mucous.
RAW FOOD DIETS
fruit based raw
This is what a fruit based raw vegan diet looks like. If you choose to follow this type of diet, the majority of your caloric needs will come in the form of fruit since fruits are higher in carbohydrate calories which can help to sustain your energy and provide sufficient calories since vegetables are much lower in calories. A fruit based diet is one of the best diets to follow to help heal digestive issues and upsets since fruits are the easiest foods for the body to digest and eliminate because of their high fiber and water content. If you have never tried a fruit based diet before then I would recommend easing your way into it. Jumping in too quickly may shock your system (hence Ashton Kucher's negative experience with a fruitarian diet). Switching from a high protein cooked diet to a low protein fruit based diet can have both positive and negative effects on the body so take your time when transitioning. Healing your body is not a race, so do not to compare yourself to others who have been eating this type of diet for a much longer period of time. Keep in mind that this type of raw food diet is not for everyone and is difficult to sustain long term but it can certainly help those who are suffering with their health.
HIGH PROTEIN RAW
This is what a high protein raw vegan diet looks like. Foods like leafy greens, vegetables, sprouted legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs and algae are actually very high in protein which can help you to build up your body instead of experiencing intense detoxification as you would find from a fruit based diet. Following this type of raw diet may be a little more complex since the bulk of your diet will come from leafy greens and vegetables so be sure to increase the volume of your meals to suffice your caloric needs. Large salads with a nut or seed based dressing would be a great lunch or dinner option for this type of diet. Long term raw vegans tend to switch between a fruit based raw food diet and a high protein raw food diet throughout their healing journey especially to increase their caloric intake to make this sustainable long term.
A "gourmet” raw food diet is certainly delicious but it can be a little expensive and possibly hard to maintain. This type of raw food diet contains processed and dehydrated foods from nuts & seeds as a base along with refined "raw sugars" such as agave and chocolate for sweetness. Newcomers to this diet, including myself, typically start with this type of diet. I personally feel these types of foods are little more "heavy" due to the high fat content so I personally would rather break 100% raw with a simple cooked vegetable than continue to stay 100% and feel weighted down with these types of raw foods. Back in 2013 when I first got into raw foods, I would always treat myself to raw burgers, raw tacos, raw pizzas, bags of nuts, loads of nut butters and tons of chocolate just to stay “raw”. I even ran my second marathon on a high fat raw diet, so it can certainly be done. However, when I switched from high fat raw to low fat/high carb raw diet, I immediately noticed improved digestion and increased energy. From time to time, I let myself "indulge" in high fat processed restaurant foods on special occasions but I do not recommend following this type of diet long time unless money or proper digestion is not an issue for you.
RAW TILL 4
This type of diet recommends to follow a fruit based diet for breakfast and lunch during the day followed by a high carb cooked dinner at night. I personally have followed a “Raw Till 4” style diet for five years now. Two of those years I stayed 100% "fully raw" but I used “Raw till 4” as my backup plan to raw and found it so much easier to stay raw as long as I had this plan set in place. I’m actually more of a "Fruit till 5" eater since I eat nothing but fruit all day and I love it! My dinner is either a large green salad with a raw dressing or if I follow “Raw Till 4”, I will have steamed kabocha squash or purple potatoes (darker potatoes have pigments called carotenoids and flavonoids that may protect you from cancer). That's it. I keep it simple, nothing processed, nothing fake. Just homemade, delicious and simple eating.
Others may consider this type of diet to be "extreme" or "orthorexic", but it has truly been working for me for 5 years. I've never felt better and I continue to improve my health over time the longer I continue to eat this way. We all are coming from different pasts and live different lifestyles so the calorie recommendations on this type of diet may not be necessary for everyone, especially if you aren’t as active. Always feel free to “tweak” any diet to suit what works best for you and your lifestyle.
myths about a raw food diet
Raw food diets are not healthy or natural
Define "healthy" and "natural". The term "healthy" is used very loosely nowadays and is confusing the majority of our population. Vegan dietitian Virginia Messina says, “As humans evolved, so did our eating habits based on availability, genetics, and climate. Simply moving around the globe changed diets and dietary needs. For example, our ancestors used to get all of their vitamin D from sun exposure. Now, populations that live far from the equator often need supplements or fortified foods to get enough. It doesn’t really matter that this isn’t the way we evolved to get vitamin D. Given the wide range in eating habits throughout the world, and the evolution of food choices, it’s not likely that there is some single natural way of eating.” Keep this in mind if someone tells you that this type of eating is not "natural". Eating candy isn't natural yet we keep rewarding children with it and create holidays around them. Whats accepted from the majority isn’t always “healthy”.
You need to eat 100% raw to get 100% of the benefits of a raw food diet
There is no need to pressure yourself to eat 100% raw 100% of the time. Feelings of guilt can lead to disordered eating and thinking patterns in attempts to achieve a "pure" diet. I tell people all the time that the more raw foods you eat, the more benefits you will receive. A 100% raw food diet isn't always necessarily "healthy" because there are plenty of unhealthy raw foods that are still considered "raw" that if eaten in excess can create problems (i.e. oil, chocolate, dehydrated foods, or excessive nuts and seeds). Just like how a vegan diet has many different options, you cannot over generalize “raw” or “vegan”. There is no reason to feel guilty for not being able to follow a diet perfectly or eating cooked vegetables. If you are not dealing with serious health issues or concerns, then a 100% raw food diet may not be a necessity for you. Incorporating a high percentage of raw plant foods into your diet will greatly improve your health so find which percentage works best for you and your lifestyle.
If you eat a raw food diet then you don't need to supplement
I am definitely not a fan of supplementation nonetheless pharmaceutical "symptom suppression", but since I have experienced health issues in my past, I believe there is a time and a place to supplement temporarily. Supplements are simply isolate chemicals (or bio-identials) which I call "band-aids" that are used to mask a much deeper underlying deficiency within the body. Anytime you are deficient in a specific nutrient, you need to first take a look at why you are not be absorbing that specific nutrient in the first place. You can certainly eat a perfect diet full of organic fruits and vegetables and still not absorb all of the nutrients properly depending on the current state of your body, what type of genetic weaknesses you face and/or what lifestyle you are coming from. This is why detoxification of the body is so important so you can improve your absorption of the nutrients you consume.
Raw food diets are tasteless and boring
Following a raw vegan diet may seem very restrictive in the beginning, however when you start to get creative in the kitchen, you'll find that your meals can be fun and full of flavor. Check out some simple and delicious raw recipes here!
You will spend all of your time in the kitchen
It takes me approximately 30 minutes to prepare all of my food for the day including cleanup. You can’t say the same for food that needs to be cooked which can take well over an hour and time to cool down as well. You will spend less time in the kitchen if you eat a raw food diet, plain and simple.
Eating raw will make you cold
Humans are the only species on the planet who wear clothing because we do not adapt well to changes in temperature since we don't have the thermoregulation many other species do. Of course if we eat frozen fruit in the cold of winter, we will be cold but fruits and greens leafy vegetables do not make one cold. They have actually been shown to improve the balance of our body temperature. When you eat something warm, your body is actually working harder to bring its body temperate back down to homeostasis. Either way, if you want to eat something "warm", you can certainly warm your food up to approximately 118-120 degrees Fahrenheit without impacting its nutritional value. Consider purchasing a dehydrator and making chips, crackers or raw pizzas in the winter if you feel too cold. You can add ginger and cayenne to your foods to warm up the dish as well. Foods can be warm up the body without being cooked.
The raw food diet only consists of fruits and vegetables
Yes, fruits and vegetables are the base of this diet but you can also eat sprouts, sprouted legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs, seaweeds, algae, nutritional yeast and even chocolate on a raw food diet. There are tons or processed raw food treats and desserts popping up on the supermarket shelves. Experiment with these foods to see which ones make you feel your very best.
Eating raw is more expensive than eating cooked
Not necessarily. This would just depend on where you live, what you're eating, and the current season it is in your environment. Summertime is typically an easier time to eat more raw foods. When the weather is hot, who wants to eat hot food? Bananas typically cost 59 cents per pound (non organic) and I am able to purchase 40 pounds worth of fair trade bananas for just $18 at my local Whole Foods which lasts me well over a week if I am primarily eating bananas. If you don't like bananas, there are so many other fruits and vegetables you can buy in bulk to get discounts like oranges, dates, mangoes, papaya, watermelon (in season), avocados... you name it! Focus on eating fresh food that’s in season and local to you.
You can't eat out at restaurants
Not always the case but would depend on where you live and what type of restaurant you are visiting. There may not be many raw food restaurants in small towns, but have you ever heard of the salad bar? Learn how to get creative if you live in a city that doesn't offer many raw food options. Make one of your favorite raw salad dressings at home and bring it in a small mason jar to a restaurant and pour over a simple salad if you are meeting people out at a restaurant. Don't sacrifice your personal health goals at the expensive of what other people think.
MY FAVORITE raw food restaurants
Whenever I travel to new places, I always look for raw food restaurants in the area. Creating raw living food dishes is truly an art and I love trying out new ways to eat living foods. If you have never dined at a raw food restaurant before, I highly recommend one of these places. Some of them have been closed unfortunately, but the more we request and support raw food chefs and their businesses, the more we will see new restaurants popping up all across the country and world!